Gardening Tips Lettuce Organic Pest Control Potatoes Tomatoes

3 Tips – Potatoes, Lettuce, Tomato Hornworm and a personal note

Yes, I’m still in the kitchen floor, but getting better everyday. As you may have already imagined, my heart is out in the garden.

A reader wrote to me not long ago and said that the Secrets to Seed Starting Success PDF was filled with such “common sense” suggestions that she couldn’t believe she’d not already thought of them.

If we live and garden long enough most of these simple little tips will occur to us sooner or later. But the sooner we have them in our arsenal of tools for success, the easier things get.

Here are 3 tips to add to your list if you don’t already know them:

Potatoes – A Harvest Tip

If soil is heavy, has poor drainage, or is not yet improved,  potatoes left in the water logged ground can rot.

But if you have good drainage and your soil is moist during heavy rains but not soggy, your potatoes should be fine even left in the ground long after they’re finished.

So if you have reasons you don’t want to harvest all your potatoes at one time, you don’t have to.

I usually harvest enough for a few meals each time I harvest, beginning in May or June through our first frost long about November. They do well in the driest of summers and even during unusual torrential ongoing rains.

As long as you have potatoes covered well with mulch (straw, pine, leaves, etc) so they won’t be exposed to sunlight and turn green, they’ll keep nicely in the ground until the first frost.

Once exposed to freezing temperatures (or frost) they change composition and don’t taste as good.

Some varieties produce only at the level just above where they’re planted. A few of the tubers produced will show above ground when the vines start to die back.  Seeing that, I bring in straw and cover them. That fixes that.

Lettuce – Want It Well into The Heat of Summer?

If you love lettuce like I do, you’ll want it fresh from the garden as long as possible. And you can have it, provided you don’t stop planting with just one or two plantings in the spring.

My winter lettuces produce bountifully in late winter and early spring. This gives me plenty of time to start seed and transplant lettuce for the summer months.

From April to the first of June, I planted 4 times. Each planting was about 20 days apart.

Here it is mid-July. We’ve had many hot and humid days in the 90s.

The last two plantings (Sierra Batavia and Aerostar) are still producing crisp and delicious lettuce. The first two spring plantings are setting seed. (As you know I can’t walk yet, but Lisa gives me the scoop on what’s happening in the garden each day.)


These pests blend so nicely with tomato foliage they can be hard to find even when you’re looking right at them.

If you see damage (stems totally stripped of leaves) and still can’t see the worm, cut the damaged stems away. Come back later with a fresh eye and you’ll probably see it.

And just a reminder: If you see one colonized with the cocoons of the Braconid Wasp — leave him be. He’s paralyzed already and won’t do anymore harm. The young wasp will emerge and help you keep these pests in check in the future.

Final Thoughts of a Personal Nature

I want to thank you for the loving comments left to my post telling about my most recent challenge.  They were so encouraging to me.

I’m almost finished answering each message individually via email.  So, if you haven’t received a personal email from me, you will soon.

As I’ve told you many times, you are the most wonderful friends and readers in the world and there are none finer.   Thank you for your encouragement and caring.  I’m so grateful for having you in my life.

All my best and warmest wishes,



Related Posts:

Discrepancies in IDs – Hornworms – eggs or cocoons.

Lettuce Making Sure You Have Enough for Fall, Winter and Next Spring


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  • As usual I enjoyed reading your thoughts and words of advice.

    I’m glad you are improving, that you have help in person (Lisa) and that she can be your eyes to keep you up to date on the garden happenings.

    May you continue to heal and are able to soon be up and about doing what your heart desires.

  • I am glad you continue to heal. I wish it was faster! I also wish that when I go out to my tomato plants and see horn worm damage that I could see the buggers. Sometimes I stand looking at the camouflaged critters and see nothing, and it is right in front of my eyes!

  • Theresa-
    You are so loved!
    Thank you for a wonderful post full of excellent tips and reminders.
    You still provide invaluable help to so many even when you are broken and confined to the floor!

  • Good morning Theresa! So sad to hear about your accident, but so thankful you have people nearby to help!
    Your ‘never give up’ attitude is an inspiration to me. Praying for a speedy recovery!
    I live in beautiful southern Ontario, growing zone 5. My tomatoes were looking beautiful but I’ve been noticing since last week that some of them are getting a brown, rotting spot on the bottom. It makes me sad every time I have to pick one and throw it away:( From what I’ve been reading, it sounds like blossom end rot. My hunch is that it’s caused by uneven watering. I have them growing in raised beds (made before I read your book:)) and we had a dry spell and I watered once, maybe twice, a week. What do you think?

  • Susana, thank you for your prayers for a speedy recovery. I’m doing better each day.

    I’ve detailed a lot about blossom end rot in these three posts:

    If you have more questions after you read these three posts, please let me know.
    Hope your tomatoes straighten out and give you all the beautiful tomatoes you can use!

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